While Amazon and Google have been big disruptors in the travel space for some time, the news this week from Amazon on the launch of Alexa for Hospitality, a business unit entirely devoted to the placement and usage of Amazon’s Echo smart speaker devices in hospitality settings ranging from top of the range hotels to vacation rentals, has certainly grabbed the industry’s attention.
- The launch this week of Alexa for Hospitality marks a further step by Amazon into the travel industry as it delivers voice-based solutions to the world’s hotel sector;
- Marriott International will be launch partner for new offer initially at Charlotte Marriott City Center and Marriott Irvine Spectrum but spreading to eight further properties this summer;
- Marriott deal will see Alexa for Hospitality used across Marriott Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts, St Regis Hotels & Resorts, Aloft Hotels, and Autograph Collection Hotels properties;
- Alexa for Hospitality will work over Echo devices installed in guest rooms and will enable them to ask Alexa for information about the hotel itself or its services or support guests in room needs.
While airlines and some hotels are already making use of the technology and similar voice-based technologies to enhance the customer experience and support personalisation strategies, this latest move from Amazon clearly illustrates an intent to become more active in the travel sphere and that will certainly keep incumbents on their toes. It is far from a certainty that it will take a route into developing its own travel sales platform, but the threat that it could will be enough to force further change in the sector, and that can only be good news for corporate traveller.
Alexa for Hospitality will launch with a partnership with Marriott International, which will introduce the Alexa experience to guests at select Marriott Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts, St Regis Hotels & Resorts, Aloft Hotels, and Autograph Collection Hotels properties starting this summer. It has publicly stated that it has been exploring voice assistant technology and had been testing both Alexa and Siri devices to test their suitability to the hospitality sector.
Amazon says Alexa for Hospitality will help deliver “experiences that are personalised, and memorable” to hotel guests. “Alexa for Hospitality helps you deliver those immersive experiences, so you can delight your guests, and improve your teams’ productivity,” it explains as it works as a virtual concierge for guests.
It works over Echo devices installed in guest rooms which will be customised for the hotel. Currently, supported devices include the Amazon Echo Dot, Echo and Echo Plus. Via the Echo, guests will be able to ask Alexa for information about the hotel itself or its services or support guests in room needs. For example, tasks for guests like playing music, ordering towels, controlling in-room temperature or lighting, finding local restaurants and attractions, calling, and even checking out could be supportive. As Amazon explains: “Alexa makes delivering a great customer experience simple. Just ask.”
Amazon confirms the system is compatible with most existing hotel technology and means guests will also be able to order specific items such as food or drink from room service or a spa treatment and the requests will be routed to property management, point of sale, and guest request systems for fulfilment.
Every traveller has different wishes when staying in a hotel so personalisation is key. But above all they want to create a home away from home experience, and Amazon believes that Alexa for Hospitality will allow hotel owners and managers to better achieve this, especially as at a later stage users will be able to connect their personalised Amazon accounts to the in-room system for the duration of their stays.
While Marriott is the first official partner, it is not exclusive and the system will also be available by invitation to other hospitality providers with immediate effect. The hotel group’s vice president customer experience innovation is “thrilled” it will be among the first to offer Alexa for Hospitality. “So many of our guests use voice technology in their home, and we want to extend that convenience to their travel experience,” she explains.
Guests at its Charlotte Marriott City Center in North Carolina and Marriott Irvine Spectrum in Florida will be among the first to experience a curated list of Alexa for Hospitality features and guest feedback will be evaluated to view how it will expand the skills, features, and functionality offered through Alexa across its hotels. Its adoption will be expanded across ten properties in the US this summer.